In Tanzania, the National Water Policy (NAWAPO) of 2002 clearly stipulates that access to water supply and sanitation is a right for every Tanzanian and that cost recovery is the foundation of sustainable service delivery. To meet these demands, water authorities have introduced cost recovery and a water sharing system. The overall objective of this study was to assess the impact of cost recovery and the sharing system on water policy implementation and human rights to water in four villages in the Ileje district. The specific objectives were: (1) to assess the impact of cost recovery and the sharing system on the availability of water to the poor, (2) to assess user willingness to pay for the services provided, (3) to assess community understanding on the issue of water as a human right, (4) to analyse the implications of the results in relation to policies on human rights to water and the effectiveness of the implementation of the national water policy at the grassroots, and (5) to establish the guidelines for water pricing in rural areas.

Questionnaires at water demand, water supply, ability and willingness to pay and revenue collection were the basis for data collection. While 36.7% of the population in the district had water supply coverage, more than 73,077 people of the total population of 115,996 still lacked access to clean and safe water and sanitation services in the Ileje district. The country's rural water supply coverage is 49%. Seventy-nine percent of the interviewees in all four villages said that water availability in litres per household per day had decreased mainly due to high water pricing which did not consider the income of villagers. On the other hand, more than 85% of the villagers were not satisfied with the amount they were paying because the services were still poor. On the issue of human rights to water, more than 92% of the villagers know about their right to water and want it exercised by the government.

In all four villages, more than 78% of the interviewees are willing to pay for water provided that the tariffs are affordable. Water policy implementation continues slowly: regardless of the fact that more than five years have passed since policy inception, 60% of the villagers in Itumba still have no water services at all. The study shows that government fulfilment of human rights to water has a long way to go, especially in rural areas where people cannot afford to pay for water and some of the villages still depend on water from wells and seasonal rivers.

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